Send to

Choose Destination
Semin Immunol. 2012 Feb;24(1):3-8. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2011.11.006. Epub 2011 Dec 7.

The secret languages of coevolved symbioses: insights from the Euprymna scolopes-Vibrio fischeri symbiosis.

Author information

Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 5203 Microbial Sciences Building, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Recent research on a wide variety of systems has demonstrated that animals generally coevolve with their microbial symbionts. Although such relationships are most often established anew each generation, the partners associate with fidelity, i.e., they form exclusive alliances within the context of rich communities of non-symbiotic environmental microbes. The mechanisms by which this exclusivity is achieved and maintained remain largely unknown. Studies of the model symbiosis between the Hawaiian squid Euprymna scolopes and the marine luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri provide evidence that the interplay between evolutionarily conserved features of the innate immune system, most notably MAMP/PRR interactions, and a specific feature of this association, i.e., luminescence, are critical for development and maintenance of this association. As such, in this partnership and perhaps others, symbiotic exclusivity is mediated by the synergism between a general animal-microbe 'language' and a 'secret language' that is decipherable only by the specific partners involved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center